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Protest Rights

“For me, Garden Court is a ‘go-to set’ for protest work. Their counsels’ knowledge and skill in this specialist area is in a different class. They are approachable, understand what drives protest clients and how to represent them in and out of court. I can’t recommend them highly enough.”

Raj Chada, Partner, Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors

"The set enjoys a strong reputation for claimants challenging police misconduct”

Chambers UK Bar Guide - Police Law

"Impressed solicitors note that the individuals at the set represent an amazing level of excellence."

Chambers UK Bar Guide - Police Law

"The barristers at Garden Court Chambers are well versed in the representation of protesters in both civil and criminal litigation. The team is regularly called upon to handle complex challenges to injunctions preventing occupations, and offers significant expertise in the criminal defence of protesters charged with trespass and breaches of public orders."

Chambers UK Bar Guide - Protest Rights

"The set's members are routinely involved in high-profile cases arising from major protests"

Chambers UK Bar Guide - Protest Rights

To contact the Criminal Defence Clerks, please email crimeclerksmailbox@gclaw.co.uk

To contact the Civil Liberties Clerks, please email civillibertiesclerks@gclaw.co.uk

Alternatively, please call +44 (0)20 7993 7600

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Garden Court Chambers is nationally renowned for its expertise in successfully defending the right to protest for a wide range of progressive campaigners.

We have a long history of representing protestors in criminal and civil litigation, over many decades including the Mangrove 9, Poll Tax protestors, striking miners at Orgreave, Brian Haw’s occupation of Parliament Square and the Occupy movement.

We have been instructed to represent activists in most of the major protests of recent years including those against fracking, climate change, racism, war, austerity and the arms trade.

Protecting the right to freedom of expression and assembly is at the core of our founding ethos to hold state agents to account and promote fundamental human rights.

The Garden Court Chambers Crime Team has been shortlisted as 'Crime Set of the Year' at the Chambers UK Bar Awards 2021.

OUR EXPERTISE

Garden Court is unique in possessing expertise across all areas of the law relating to protest: from criminal defence to injunctions to civil action and public law challenges. 

Our protest law barristers are regularly instructed by all of the solicitor firms ranked by the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) as ‘Highly Commended’ in their Protest Solicitors List. Netpol monitors public order, protest and street policing.

Garden Court Chambers is highly ranked by the legal directories for protest law as well as police actions, criminal defence, civil liberties and human rights, including a number of Band 1 silks and juniors. Clients benefit from our multi-disciplinary expertise across all of these areas, allowing us to provide a seamless service, unrivalled by most other chambers.

We have a long-standing track record of pursuing bold and innovative points of law through the courts to secure the best possible outcome for our clients. We have represented campaigners in the criminal courts and the civil courts, including the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. 

Our barristers have lectured and written widely on protest law. Members of our team have written ‘The Protest Handbook’, which covers both the criminal and civil aspects of protest law. 

We are closely involved in the Netpol Lawyers Group, a group of protest lawyers affiliated to the Network for Police Monitoring.

 

Injunctions

Garden Court barristers have significant expertise challenging the use of civil injunctions by public authorities and corporations to prevent and restrict the rights of protesters, including injunctions against “persons unknown. We have acted in most of the lead cases in which injunctions under the Protection From Harassment Act 1997 were transposed to the protest context. 

We also have extensive knowledge of human rights defences to civil injunctions associated with our leading expertise defending the rights of Gypsies and Travellers.

We have successfully challenged injunctions against animal rights protestors and environmental protestors, for example Plane Stupid and anti-fracking protestors demonstrating against INEOS and UKOG.

 

Civil Claims and Public Law Challenges

Our Civil Liberties and Public Law barristers can assist solicitors and campaigners with:

  • Upholding protestors' rights under Articles 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Challenging the excessive or unlawful use of force by police officers
  • Obtaining apologies
  • Securing compensation where authorities and companies have acted unlawfully
  • Changes to police practice through disciplinary and civil actions against the police
  • Judicial review proceedings where the law has been misapplied
  • Pre-emptively, or after the event, public law challenges to unlawful arrests, police decisions to take DNA, fingerprints or photos, decisions to retain or disclose sensitive personal information to third parties on criminal records checks for employers, or visa applications
  • Pre-litigation advice to campaigners on criminal and civil liability for direct action protests.
  • Planning and environmental law challenges and injunctions on behalf of campaigners to prevent unlawful development and climate change emissions

To contact the Crime Clerks, please email crimeclerksmailbox@gclaw.co.uk or phone +44 (0)20 7993 7600

 

Defending protestors in criminal proceedings


Our criminal defence protest law barristers are nationally renowned for representing protesters in the criminal courts alongside the top ranked protest solicitors in the UK. They have gathered a wealth of knowledge from many of the most high profile protest cases in recent years. 

Our criminal defence team has secured a number of acquittals including for Extinction Rebellion, Black Lives Matter, Occupy protestors, anti-fracking campaigners, peace activists and many more (see examples of notable cases below).

In 2015 our crime team won the Legal 500 Crime Set of the Year Award and we have since been shortlisted for the award a further two times.

How our criminal defence protest specialists can help:

  • Devising and deploying new and innovative ways to defend protestors and challenge State abuse of power
  • Scrutinising and challenging police powers (e.g. stop and search) or CPS decisions 
  • Representing defendants in court charged with public order offences
  • Mobilising human rights arguments during criminal trials

To contact the Crime Clerks, please email crimeclerksmailbox@gclaw.co.uk or phone +44 (0)20 7993 7600

 

Recent notable cases and news

Tom Wainwright successfully appeals conviction of HS2 protestor for protecting wildlife

Tom Wainwright, of the Garden Court Chambers Protest Team, represented the appellant. Tom was instructed by Simon Natas and Anna Renou of ITN Solicitors.

17 November 2021

Garden Court secures number one rankings in Chambers UK Bar Guide 2022

21 October 2021

Another XR Conviction Overturned

Shina Animashaun of the Garden Court Chambers Protest Team successfully overturned XR conviction for client Neil Traynor. He was instructed by Adeela Khan of Edward Fail Bradshaw & Waterson.

12 August 2021

Another XR protestor conviction quashed at the Old Bailey

Tom Wainwright of the Garden Court Chambers Protest Team represented Helen Allen. He was instructed by Jenny Winter of Birds Solicitors.

6 August 2021

Extinction Rebellion Conviction Overturned at the Old Bailey

Shina Animashaun of the Garden Court Chambers Protest Team successfully overturned XR conviction for client Amelia Halls. He was instructed by Adeela Khan.

6 August 2021

Tom Wainwright secures acquittal for HS2 rebellion protestor after trial collapses due to CPS disclosure failures

Tom Wainwright of the Garden Court Chambers Protest Team was instructed by Hollie Collinge of Kellys Solicitors.

3 August 2021

Protestor acquitted of causing criminal damage on a joint enterprise basis at Brazilian Embassy

Audrey Cherryl Mogan of the Garden Court Protest Team represented the protestor instructed by Lydia Dagostino of Kellys Solicitors.

23 July 2021

Supreme Court upholds right to disruptive protest on highway

The Appellants were represented by Henry Blaxland QC and Owen Greenhall, both members of the Garden Court Chambers Protest Team, and Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh of Matrix Chambers. They were instructed by Raj Chada of Hodge, Jones and Allen solicitors.

25 June 2021

XR protestor acquitted following Tube shut down

Susan Wright of the Garden Court Protest Team represented the protestor, instructed by Lydia Dagostino of Kellys Solicitors.

12 May 2021

Appeals allowed for Extinction Rebellion Protests

Owen Greenhall and Audrey Cherryl Mogan, members of the Garden Court Chambers Protest Team, represented the appellants. They were instructed by Raj Chada (HJA) and Lydia Dagostino (Kellys).

4 May 2021

Defend our Freedom to Protest - Why the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is Dangerous

Blog by our Jacob Bindman, Russell Fraser and Zehrah Hasan, members of the Garden Court Chambers Protest Law Team.

18 March 2021

Administrative Court overturn conviction for refusing to provide name and address in relation to suspected breach of Coronavirus Regulations

Tom Wainwright of the Garden Court Criminal Defence and Protest Teams represented Neale instructed by Patrick Ormerod of Bindmans Solicitors.

23 February 2021

High Court radically scales back UK Oil and Gas protest injunction

Stephanie Harrison QC, Stephen Simblet QC and Fatima Jichi represented Weald Action Group protestors. Stephen Clark also represented protestors.

9 February 2021

Lord Chief Justice quashes Stansted 15 convictions

Owen Greenhall of the Garden Court Crime and Protest Rights Teams was instructed to represent the appellants.

29 January 2021

Court of Appeal overturns draconian injunctions preventing protests against INEOS fracking activities

Stephanie Harrison QC and Stephen Simblet represented Joe Corré. Henry Blaxland QC & Stephen Clark represented Friends of the Earth.

3 April 2019

The 'Stansted 15' have today been kept out of prison following their conviction last year for Endangering Safety at an Aerodrome

Nine of the Defendants were represented by members of the Garden Court Crime Team – Dexter Dias QC, Tom Wainwright, Owen Greenhall, Terry Munyard, Susan Wright, Abigail Bache and Jacob Bindman, all instructed by Raj Chada of Hodge, Jones and Allen.

6 February 2019

Six environmental campaigners appear in High Court this week to challenge broad injunction sought by UK Oil and Gas (UKOG)

Garden Court's Stephanie Harrison QC, Tim Baldwin, Stephen Simblet and Owen Greenhall are instructed in the case by Michael Oswald of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors. 

4 July 2018

Acquitted hunt saboteur features in BBC documentary

Ms Scott, who was acquitted, was represented by Owen Greenhall of the Garden Court Crime Team.

17 May 2018

High Court legal challenge secures delay to wide-ranging injunction against environmental protestors

The campaigners are represented by Stephanie Harrison QC leading Timothy Baldwin and Stephen Simblet leading Anna Morris of Garden Court Chambers.

21 March 2018

Greenpeace Anti-Fracking Activists Not Guilty

All 10 activists were represented by Owen Greenhall of the Garden Court Crime Team.

7 November 2017

DSEI protesters who acted to stop sale of illegal weapons acquitted

One of the defendants was represented by Owen Greenhall of Garden Court Chambers.

18 April 2016

CPS drops case against arms factory protest after High Court declares injunction void

Owen Greenhall acted in the High Court proceedings and both Owen and Tom Wainwright acted in the criminal proceedings.

7 December 2015

All 2014 Occupy Democracy protestors cleared

All Defendants were represented by Tom Wainwright and Owen Greenhall of Garden Court Chambers' Crime Team.

20 November 2015

Occupy Democracy protestors cleared over sit-in during Parliament Square Protest

The defendants were represented by Tom Wainwright and Owen Greenhall of Garden Court Chambers.

21 July 2015

All notable cases and news

Past Notable Cases

 

DPP v Ziegler [2021] 3 WLR 179
Seismic Supreme Court decision which re-cast the balance of protest rights in England and Wales back towards demonstrators. The defendants were acquitted of obstructing the highway leading to the DSEI arms fair. The Court held that intentional action by protestors to disrupt the activities of others could come under the protection of the right to freedom of expression within the European Convention on Human Rights, even when the obstruction was more than minimal.

‘The Stansted 15’: R v Thacker [2021] 2 WLR 1087
In 2017 the ‘Stansted 15’ took action to prevent a deportation flight removing people from the UK and taking them to countries where their lives were at risk due to their sexuality. In 2021, the Court of Appeal quashed their convictions for ‘Endangering Safety at an Aerodrome’, holding that the defence interpretation of this rarely charged offence was correct and the court should have acceded to their submission that there was no case to answer. Reported in BBC and Guardian.

INEOS vs Persons Unknown [2019] EWCA Civ 515
We represented environmental campaigners in this successful complex challenge against a High Court injunction brought by the fracking company, INEOS, and designed to deter protest against fracking. This injunction was described as one of the most wide-ranging ever granted against protestors. The case went to the Court of Appeal on a point of principle about suing “persons unknown”. The judgment recognised the serious chilling effect of the INEOS injunction on civil liberties and makes clear that the Court will intervene to prevent powerful companies like INEOS using draconian injunctions to intimidate and deter people from participating in lawful protest against fracking. Reported in Independent and Drill or Drop

UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) v Persons Unknown [2018] EWHC 2252 (Ch)
Represented six environmental campaigners who took legal action in high-profile challenge seeking to overturn a broad injunction sought by UK Oil and Gas against “persons unknown”, prohibiting lawful acts of protest against fracking activities. Reported in Guardian and Drill or Drop

Sheffield City Council v Brooke [2018] EWHC 1540 (QB)
First time High Court acknowledges defence of another as a defence to contempt of court. Sheffield tree protestor facing committal proceedings. 

‘Rotherham 12’ acquitted of violent disorder against far-right extremists 
Twelve Asian defendants were charged with violent disorder after a peaceful anti-fascist demonstration was directed into the path of vicious far-right football hooligans by South Yorkshire police. Ten of the twelve defendants were unanimously acquitted by a jury following a trial in October 2016, three of whom were represented by Garden Court counsel. Not Guilty verdicts were also entered against the remaining two, both represented by Garden Court, after further material came to light affecting the credibility of a key police witness. 

R(DPP) v Stratford Magistrates Court [2017] EWHC 1794 (Admin)
High Court considered scope of Prevention of Crime Defence in protest cases. The DPP brought a judicial review against the acquittal, by a district judge, of anti-arms fair protestors on the basis they acted in order to prevent crime by the sale of illegal weapons at the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair. Eight protesters who blocked roads outside the DSEI arms fair in 2015 were found not guilty. The defendants argued that they were acting to prevent the illegal sale of torture equipment and weapons sold to countries that abused human rights. Garden Court acted at trial and on appeal. Reported in Guardian and Independent.

Occupy Protest acquittals
Garden Court represented four protestors from Occupy Democracy who were cleared of charges relating to a protest in Parliament Square in October 2014. The four were part of a group of protestors who were arrested after sitting on a tarpaulin and were charged with an offence of keeping in place ‘sleeping equipment’ in Parliament Square Gardens. This case was one of the first mass arrests under the PRSRA 2011 legislation governing Parliament Square. Following the judgment, the CPS offered no evidence against a further eight defendants facing similar charges. Reported in London Evening Standard

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